St. Andrew’s Cross named after Disciple’s legend

ST. ANDREW’S CROSS Hypericum hypericoides

ST. ANDREW’S CROSS
Hypericum hypericoides

By Orrin Morris

Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and was present when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. When John announced Jesus’ presence to the crowd saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” Andrew followed Jesus and became His first disciple  (John 1:36).

Very little attention is given to Andrew today, but it was Andrew who introduced Simon Peter to Jesus (John 1:40-41).  It was Andrew who introduced Jesus to the boy with a lunch that Jesus used to feed the five thousand (John 6:8). It was Andrew who, with Philip, brought some Greeks to Jesus (John 12:22).

Legend states that Andrew was martyred on an X-shaped cross. That tradition is the basis for the naming of the wildflower we examine here. However, we will contrast it to another related wildflower named after the disciple John, who authored the book that recorded Andrew’s activities noted above.

St. Andrew’s Cross is in the St. Johnswort family but is without a medicinal history.  This plant is short, ranging from 6 to 18 inches tall. It has a woody stem with many branches and a distinctly shaped flower.

St. Andrew’s Cross has four unequal sepals, four oblong petals, numerous stamens and one pistil. The configuration of the petals, as seen in the sketch, is believed to be similar to the cross on which Andrew was martyred. The yellow blooms measure about 5/8 inch and appear at the end of each branch.

St. Andrew’s Cross blooms from July to September.  It can be found in sandy soil, often amid St. Johnswort, if in a dry area.

St. Johnswort (H. perforatum) is taller, 12 to 30 inches tall, and grows in open woods, thickets, along fences and roadsides. It has a yellow five-petal, 3/4-inch blossom and many stamens. The pistil has three styles.

The leaves are oblong and have translucent or black dots. These dots contain an oil that is believed to cure many ailments associated with sleep problems.

May the examples of both of these disciples inspire us to share the good news of God’s love through deed and word, even if risk is involved.

Rev. Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister and artist.  Please see our Contributors page for more information on how to purchase Orrin’s books on wildflowers and faith.

Daylily reminds us to rejoice in the day the Lord has made

Wild Daylily HEMEROCALLIS FULVA

Wild Daylily
HEMEROCALLIS FULVA

By Orrin Morris

Charles Dickens penned a famous first line that states, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”   That is the way I look at our current situation — locally, nationally and internationally.

There are many good things happening all about us and around the world.  At the same time, there are some terrible things occurring.  We make a serious mistake if we focus on one to the exclusion of the other.

A verse in Psalm 118 has been a guide for me from the time I memorized it in Sunday School over 70 years ago:

This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (v. 24).

This is not a Pollyanna response, but a challenge to accept the fact that God gives life.  If God wanted me to live in another era, He would have so chosen.  Thus, I view “this day” as His affirmation that my uniqueness is needed now to make a difference.  Since I am His adopted child by grace, I have tasks to perform that should benefit those with whom I have a relationship.

Make this verse a buffer against being overwhelmed by the evil that surrounds us, because, “This is the day which the Lord has made…”  And, speaking of “days,” let us examine the common daylily.

The wild daylily, often called the orange daylily, is the lazy gardener’s best friend. These flowers range from 2 to 6 feet tall and require very little attention. They adapt to their surroundings, wherever there is water, and grow at an exponential rate every year.

The wild daylily is a hybrid from Eurasian species.  It does not produce seeds, as do other species of the lily family.  Instead, it spreads from the tough rootstocks.  When the rootstock must be divided, a hatchet or limb saw is needed.  They are unlike the bulbs or corms of the other lilies that are more easily divided by hand.

Another difference within the lily family is the way it blooms on a single leafless stalk.  Stalks of other lilies have various configurations of leaves: in whorls (Turk’s-cap lily), opposites (tiger lily) and triplets (most trilliums).  The leaves of the daylily are long and sword-like, rising from the base of the stalk.

A third difference is that the wild daylily bloom is short-lived.  It blooms from May to July, but may grow earlier or later depending on the season.  The rusty-orange bloom is trumpet-shaped and generally has six petals.

A daylily’s habitat includes fields and waste places. There are large clusters of daylilies throughout Rockdale County, and clusters usually indicate the site of a former homestead.

Just as a daylily finds a home wherever it grows, find a home in God today.  This day is yours, so rejoice that God has counted you worthy to serve Him in it.

Rabbit’s Clover reflects God’s Intimacy

Rabbit's Foot Clover Trifolium arvense

Rabbit’s Foot Clover
Trifolium arvense

By Orrin Morris

In chapter 16 of Matthew’s Gospel, we have an account of Jesus asking His disciples for input on who they thought the general public perceived him to be. They responded by naming John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

He then turned to them and asked, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter, being the oldest, responded, “Thou art the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him “Blessed are you because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Then He added, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock (the confession) I will build My church; and the gates of Hell shall not overpower it” (vv 13-18).

Churches within God’s Kingdom come in all sizes and varieties. None are perfect but all are committed to proclaiming the good news of God’s love and redemption made possible through the Easter message. Empowered by God’s Spirit, the true believer strives to live the kind of life exemplified by His Son.

Generally, I have been part of a small church (attendance under 200) where most members know each other, pray daily for those with special needs, makes visits to comfort and support one another. Such a congregation meets a personal need that some of you might call the “warm and fuzzies.” I like that kind of a sense of belonging. I guess that is why I like the wildflower for today, a warm and fuzzy wildflower, the Rabbit’s Foot Clover.

Rabbit’s foot clover is one of the most delicate of the several varieties of clover. It is small and the light lavender and pink of the blooms gives the appearance of a gray or even a dead weed. Thus, it is easily overlooked. In fact, it is likely that not many of you have even stopped to take a close look.

Rabbit’s foot clover is so abundant and prolific in the spring that no damage to the species will occur if you pulled up a handful of the plants to make a careful inspection. Here is what to look for.

The leaves are three-part like most clovers, however, rabbit’s foot clover leaves are narrow rather than the broad spoon-shaped leaflets of the other clovers. Most of those leaves are found at the axil where branching occurs. Note also that the stem and branches are covered with soft hair.

At the tops of the stems and branches are the flowers. Technically, this is a fuzzy head that measures 3/4-inch tall and 3/8-inch wide. The actual flower is a pea-like bloom about 3/16-inch in diameter buried beneath long hairs that dominate the head.

The rabbit’s foot clover is an annual and thrives in dry fields and roadsides. It starts blooming in May and may be found as late as October.

Religious research conducted several years ago revealed that many members of very large churches were participants in small groups, for example, Bible study groups, music ensembles, cancer survivors clubs, grief support clubs, and book clubs, to name a few warm and fuzzy opportunities. Of course, there are those who prefer large setting in which they, like rabbit’s foot clover, can be overlooked and left alone.

Whatever circumstance you find yourself in this year, may your journey of faith be empowered by God’s spirit to live the kind of life exemplified by Jesus.